Every year the Association of Canadian
Archivists (ACA) holds a fantastic conference somewhere in Canada. This year the conference theme was Archivatopia and it was held in
Victoria, at the historic Fairmont Empress Hotel.
I have been a member of ACA since I was a
grad student and I have love participating in conferences – my first was in
Toronto in 2009 where I was on the host committee and a poster presenter. This year I was happy to be able to bring
Lisa Petawabano along to the conference to present on one of ACCI’s projects.
Before the conference officially started, Lisa
and I participated in the Aboriginal Special Interest Section annual meeting
where we discussed activities of the group, and possible changes to the
Aboriginal Archives Guide. The guide was
published in 2007 and a great deal has changed in the Aboriginal Archives world
since then. Possible changes discussed
include adding a section about the TRC documents and oral testimony statement
gathering that has been done across Canada, discussing policy and procedures and
To celebrate the start of the conference we
were invited to an opening gala at BC Government House. The view was exceptional and so was the
company. It was great to meet with archivists
from all over the world and to catch up with friends.
Thursday was the first day of the
conference. In the morning we listened
to two presentations from B.C, including one from our former YCW student
Our session title was Making and Evaluating Community Connections: Tools and Techniques. Our
paper presentation was called Eeyou
Istchee Network – Working Towards our Ideal Community Network. We discussed our MAP funded project to
connect all the community museum and archive collections with MINISIS (collections
database system) and what steps had already been taken, including trips to each
of the communities and conservation workshops.
Lisa and I spoke for 20 minutes, with our presentation slides containing
exclusively pictures from ACCI and around Eeyou Istchee. Our fellow panellist, Sarah Janes, from the
Thunder Bay Archives spoke about her outreach projects and stats that she has
been working on. It was a great panel
and we had about 50 people in our audience.
We were asked some great questions and we enjoyed the chance getting to
share our experience with fellow archivists.
On Saturday I presented again with Canadian
and American archivists. The session title was Looking Toward the Future: Aboriginal Archives in Canada and the United
States and it was organised by Jennifer O’Neal from the University of
Oregon. Also on the panel was Jonathan
Pringle from Northern Arizona University, Lim Lawson from the University of
British Columbia Xwi7xwa Library, Sherry Lawson from Chippewas of Rama First
Nation and Patricia Kennedy formally of Library and Archives Canada. The panel
discussed the Aboriginal Archives Guide published by that ACA and the Protocols
for Native American Materials that was published in the USA in 2006. Standing up and speaking beside such an
impressive crowd was a bit intimidating, and I was quite nervous. We each presented on different topics, some
of us giving our experiences using or creating guides, while others discussed
the state of their community archives.
Each person had a unique view of the Guide and Protocols and it was
great to hear about what other members of the aboriginal archival community were
working on. One of the greatest points
came from Kim Lawson when she was describing the Aboriginal Archives Guide the
night before the conference. She spoke
of how the Aboriginal Archive Guide should act like a bridge, connecting
aboriginal communities to the archive community. Aboriginal communities may choose to take
some of the ideas in the guidebook, but not everything will work for each
community. Being flexible is very
important, notably when working with communities who all have different
mandates and resources.
The conference finished on a great note –
the closing dinner and dance gala. We
had a great time talking (and dancing) with the people that we had met during
the week. The conference may be over but
the work has just started. Taking the
ideas that were shared and discussed by our archival colleagues, continuing to
improve our professional learning and updating resources for the next year will
be more than enough to keep me busy over the next year.
For other conference posts about Aboriginal
Archives please check out: